Jeannine Rochon-Burkart

November 26, 2006: What Have You Done to His Eyes?

John Carpenter's entry, Cigarette Burns, was my second favorite Masters of Horror episode from season 1. (My all-time favorite MoH to date is William Malone's The Fair-Haired Child). Cigarette Burns had everything in it that makes a horror film (even a short one) great: A unique, darkly mystical story; gorgeous photography; a deep feeling of dread; extremely shocking, perfectly-placed gore; an atmospheric musical score; and Udo Kier. If you have not yet rented or purchased Cigarette Burns on DVD, I highly recommend it. The episode itself remains one of the best of the series, and the DVD contains some interesting extras, including commentary by the master himself, John Carpenter.See, I had to begin this entry by praising J.C., because I hate feeling "meh" about any of my favorite directors' work, and I don't like blogging about disappointment. Considering the title alone, Pro-Life evokes a hot-button issue, and I expected to feel at least a bit stirred up, no matter which side of th... read more

November 19, 2006: I've Got the Music In Me

I've never been a fan of the whole "pop/rock guest star" sweeps stunt on dramatic or comedic TV shows — don't we see enough of Britney? Well, if the guest star was somebody like 30 Seconds to Mars' Jared Leto, maybe I would have a change of heart. But I swear, it's because he's also a good actor. (Cough)When I saw this week's Ghost Whisperer previews, I was excited that this episode would have a musical twist. (I'm in a band myself, so I like stories that revolve around music.) However, the cynicism kicked right in at those ominous words: "Guest-starring 'N Sync's J.C. Chasez!" Are you kidding me? But in all fairness, Mark Wahlberg was once a New Kid, and now he's a great actor and acclaimed producer (Entourage). So I elected to open my mind and just let this week's episode roll... er... rock. Wow, "Joshua Chasez" is a decent actor. Who knew? Now, the Ghost Whisperer team was smart to keep him out of the spotlight and stick to a smaller role. If he wasn't a very good actor, we... read more

November 19, 2006: Big Brother's Listening

I had a feeling Brad Anderson's Masters of Horror entry, Sounds Like, would be grim. Anderson's critically acclaimed low-budget thriller, Session 9, remains one of the most grim and cerebrally horrifying movies I've ever seen. Whenever I recommend Session 9, I describe it as one of those movies that made me hear things at night. Only two other movies to date have had that effect on me: The Exorcist and The Blair Witch Project. The Exorcist stands out as way more "in the face" (in more ways than pea soup) of the three, but Blair Witch and Session 9 both delivered that subtle, "crawl in the brain and haunt me for days" effect, which is my favorite kind of horror.I believe the most powerful link between these three films is the masterful use of sound, both subliminal and overt. It's no surprise that The Exorcist is known for using subliminal sound throughout the film, as well as huge contrasts between silence and audio assault to increase the feeling of terror and dread. For me, the mo... read more

November 10, 2006: The V Word

Masters of Horror creator and writer Mick Garris said that The V Word wouldn't be a romantic depiction of vampires, and that's definitely true. However, these vampires are not the breed found in cynical, doom-and-gloom existential metaphors like The Addiction or Habit, which is what I was anticipating. Instead, Garris himself wrote a pretty straightforward "teens explore crypts, get bit, get undead, get hungry, get gone" type of story. Michael Ironside, the ugly, angry vampire, was about as entertaining as Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick; too bad we didn't see more of him. I don't know why he carried a parasol in the graveyard, but what I don't know probably won't hurt me.Even though The V Word wasn't misted, shadowed and full of velvet and candelabras, Garris paid his respect to the romantic vampire by writing in some noticeable nods:— Ironside's character, "Mr. Chaney" (pretty obvious), is a nod to Lon Chaney, who was first considered for the role of Dracula (1931)... read more

November 10, 2006: I'm Singin' in the Rain

Living with an addiction to shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives and Battlestar Galactica can turn a TV fan into a nervous wreck these days, especially during November sweeps. These shows have been putting the "hang" in cliff-hanger lately, so I didn't really watch tonight's Ghost Whisperer in a relaxed, "Friday night TV" sort of fashion. I also happen to know that this Ghost Whisperer fan wasn't the only one on edge from this week's "a fire will tear them apart" promo. I feel silly admitting this, but I thought about all of you as the hour unfolded tonight. You have given me great comfort, as I've learned over the past couple of weeks that: 1) I'm not the only one who cries every week when I watch this show, 2) I'm not the only one who loves Jim and Melinda together, and 3) I'm also not the only one who would be about as heartbroken as Melinda if Jim ever left us.All together now, let us pause for a moment and take a nationwide Ghost Whisperer-community collective sigh of relief: ... read more

November 3, 2006: Don't You Forget About Me

The DeepTonight's episode made me cry. I found the themes particularly sensitive, so this week's ghost story struck some chords with this viewer.The "sins of the father" impacting a family like a generational curse is particularly profound and a topic that can never be explored too deeply or conveyed too urgently. The bond between Mama Ghost and Lanie also came as a surprise: they both found the courage to "leave him." Studies on abusive relationships over the years have proven that leaving isn't as easy as one would think, but it can be done. It must be done. I love that this episode showed that it can be done. Pretty deep stuff for spooky television. The CreepsSpeaking of spooky television, should I take a poll to see how many of us find dolls thoroughly creeptastic? OK, all those who feel permanently scarred by every creepy doll ever flashed on a screen, raise your hand. "Me!" Had I been in Lanie's haunted shoes, I would have preferred a baby blanket as a token of Mama Ghost's lo... read more

November 3, 2006: Masters of Horror's Family Matter

The quiet, suburban Wisconsin neighborhood of John Landis' Masters of Horror entry, Family, looks much like Desperate Housewives' notoriously perfect Wisteria Lane. Sure, Wisteria Lane continues to experience its own share of scandal, mayhem and murder. But if George Wendt's character Harold compared notes with Wisteria Lane's latest diabolical resident Orson Hodge [Kyle MacLachlan], I believe that even Orson would get a chill down his spine. Or... maybe he'd just wish that "he'd thought of that." Yes, I think that Orson would find a mentor in Harold. He certainly would respect Harold's excellence in homemaking, gardening and cleanliness as well as his devotion to family values — especially the value of hiding the evidence. (Bree Hodge really needs to watch this episode!)If I were to recommend a Masters of Horror episode to entry-level horror fiends or to my squeamish friends, it would be Family. Yes, there's a bit of gore, but nothing (I mean, nothing) compared to last week's ... read more

October 27, 2006: Masters of Horror Still Has Guts

Tobe Hooper, you did it. You started off Masters of Horror: Season 2 with a bang, and set this year's standard: This series still is not for lightweights. I'm actually a bit in shock as I sit here writing this; speechless [er... blogless?] over what I just saw and felt. To say that The Damned Thing was gore-tastic is an understatement. It made some of last year's goriest episodes seem like they were PG-13. (Hellz yeah!) Following in the footsteps of Hooper's Season 1 entry, Dance of the Dead, The Damned Thing's script is also written by R.C. Matheson. To my pleasant surprise, much like Dance of the Dead, Damned has got that unique, intelligent, poetic meter to it that actually makes Southern draaawls sound artistically stylized. However, Damned definitely parts ways with Dance's romantic, doomed poetry, and opts for a cynically introspective, downright tormenting script. After doing some digging, it's fascinating to learn that Matheson adapted The Damned Thing from a short story by ... read more

October 27, 2006: Tonight's Damned Thing

Robert Englund Gets His Freak On

Tobe Hooper's got some serious shoes to fill with tonight's Masters of Horror premiere, The Damned Thing. Season 1's premiere is still very vivid to me, even though it's been a year since I've seen it; that's pretty impressive. Incident On and Off a Mountain Road literally hit the ground running last season, providing relentless tension, lots of gore, and one of the best twist endings of all season 1 entries. Within one hour, this inaugural episode set the standard: This series is not for lightweights. Entertainment Weekly's preview of The Damned Thing graded Mr. Hooper's work with an uncomfortable [red] "D." However, the same review called the Masters of Horror show open "cliché," which I take issue with [*cough* Emmy© winner *cough*], so I'm just going to say that "D" is for Damned Thing.Tobe Hooper's season 1 episode, Dance of the Dead, received mixed reviews in the horror community, but it remains one of my favorites, so I'm hopeful about tonight. As HHH [horror-hound ... read more

October 26, 2006: Masters of Horror 101

Now Fear This!

Ah... my favorite time of year... the leaves are turning, Halloween plans churning, and Masters of Horror Season 2 is off to a screaming premiere tomorrow night [10PM ET/PT on Showtime]. As I weave my dark web here for the new season, I wanted to give Season 1 a short "re-capitation," and take us all through Season 2 "ghoul school."The Premise and The ExtremeMasters of Horror began as a dinner conversation among acclaimed horror directors, which soon became TV history-in-the-making. Director Mick Garris became the series Creator and Executive Producer, and his vision was to allow the "chosen 13" directors as much creative freedom possible. Showtime was up for this premise, and without MPAA intervention, 13 seriously extreme 1-hour horror films found a home on cable TV.And Then There Were 12The horror and cult community eagerly anticipated the 13th and final episode, directed by Japan's legendary Takashi Miike [Audition; Ichi the Killer]. However, finding it way too extre... read more

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